May 6 Editor’s Note: The story has been updated to include a response from the Ohio Secretary of State and references to the bill have been updated to the “Voting Acts” bill.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Senator Sherrod Brown expressed concern about a GOP-sponsored electoral law aimed at making Ohio Republicans “want to vote who the voters are,” but the Ohio State Secretary’s office dismissed the allegations on Thursday back.
Responding to the GOP’s efforts in Ohio to enact electoral reform law, Brown spoke on Tuesday as he toured the Celeste Center mass vaccination center in Columbus.
Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, plans to propose a bill that would allow residents to request online postal ballot papers and move the submission deadline to 10 days before the election instead of the Saturday before, according to the Associated Press. The bill would also set the number of voting sites for each county (three boxes per site) on its electoral board to one and they would only be available 10 days before election day.
Democrats, including Brown, have pushed for the number of royalty boxes to be increased across the state. The Ohio Democratic Party filed a lawsuit in the Franklin County’s Common Pleas Court in August, urging local electoral boards to install more. The move was made as a precautionary measure during the pandemic to avoid crowds in the elections and to create more accessible places for residents to cast their ballots.
But in October the lawsuit was dropped because the state said it was too close to the election that installing the boxes was nearly impossible.
Brown said Tuesday he agreed with progressive pressure groups calling the Republican efforts repressive.
“When the Republicans lost this year, instead of rethinking their positions, they decided to decide who the voters are. Instead of the voters voting the politicians, they want the politicians to vote the voters, and they know that it’s wrong. You know it’s wrong. ” – Americans to try to suppress the vote. That’s what they do, “said Brown.
Seitz said the bill was not intended as a suppressive overhaul of voting protocols, but rather as a careful effort to incorporate the changes that Democrats and Republicans are seeking.
Many Republicans said the elections were rigged – a claim that former President Donald Trump also made. Trump and other lawmakers claimed poll workers cast ballots and polling stations were not carefully monitored, but Democrats counter that those claims were refuted by election officials, calling this the “safest” election in the nation’s history.
Brown called on other Republicans from Ohio, including Secretary of State Frank LaRose.
“It’s all made up so that Secretary LaRose and Speaker of the House and Senate President Donald Trump can please Donald Trump in the new Republican Party. It’s that simple,” Brown said. “I don’t know if Governor DeWine is part of it, but I hope he refuses to sign any of those bills that suppress the vote.”
Ohio Secretary of State’s press secretary Rob Nichols denied these claims, giving Spectrum News the following statement Thursday in response to Brown’s comments:
“Sherrod Brown conveniently omits the fact that Ohio, as Ohio Secretary of State, had no drop boxes or days of early voting. In order to vote absent, voters had to prove why they could not vote in person in elections on the day. And now he is against reforms that would make it easier to vote, vote absent and vote easier on election day – while maintaining the high security standards in Ohio. Ohioans would be better off if the senator used less bipartisan exaggeration and acted more like the statesman voters deserve, “wrote Nichols in a statement.
Ohio is on a growing list of states where Republicans support similar referendums.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, 29 of 55 restrictive voting laws in place in 24 states have passed at least one chamber. Texas, Georgia, and Arizona have introduced most of the bills to tighten voting restrictions.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.